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Meet Jesse Humphries

Jesse Humphries loves education. She believes teaching informs all other professions, is the answer to many global issues, and gives students the chance to grow in ways they never imagined.  She is passionate about becoming a teacher, and she’s using that passion to cultivate a love of teaching in her peers through the JMU ROTE (Raising an Organization of Trained Educators) Program.

Jesse is the head of the JMU ROTE Team at Smithland Elementary in Harrisonburg, where, she says, “Teachers are willing do to anything, bend over backwards, to better a student’s experience and shape them to have great character, intelligence and a firm belief in themselves.”

ROTE participants spend in-class time with a teacher two hours a week, for a month at a time. Humphries is in charge of schedules for the 20 ROTE members placed at Smithland.

She says ROTE members “don’t see the same teachers until they’ve seen all the teachers. There is a requirement to attend a minimum of 4 events outside of the class: PTO meetings, faculty meetings extra curricular activities, afterschool events; ROTE members do what the teachers do.”

Humphries began her journey in educational leadership as a TEACH Ambassador for the College of Education assisting students with Praxis Core Tutoring, Peer Advising Sessions, and by answering questions about the CoE and the Teacher Education program application process.  As seniors, the Ambassadors are required to complete an Education Leadership Project (ELP).  The concept of ROTE originated as the ELP from a former CoE Alum, Jen Bailey (’13) and now, Jessie is helping to carry out that plan through collaboration with her peers and the support of Smithland Elementary Principal and JMU Alum, Gary Painter (’91).  Painter teaches both sections of EDUC 401: Issues in Education.  Exclusively for ROTE participants, the 1 credit class is held at Smithland Monday and Thursday evenings.

Humphries says they get to explore topics they’re interested in.

“Last semester we talked about poverty in education, we had ESL teacher panels, we looked at the Smithland Newcomers program, and this semester we’re focusing on teacher evaluations.”

“This is a rare opportunity for pre-professional teacher candidates to actually get into classrooms their freshman year, even if they know they want to do education, but maybe they think they want to do elementary education and instead they find out what they really should be doing is inclusive early childhood education.”

In traditional teacher licensure programs, students don’t get into the classroom until their practicum placements during their senior year.  Through ROTE, Humphries says this year’s freshman will really benefit from the program by the time they enter student teaching as graduate students. She expects them to be “hands-on student teachers, and able understand what’s expected of teachers beyond the lesson plans and activities, and I expect them to go [into the classroom] very confident.  They wouldn’t be as much in the observing-learning phase, and they’ll be able to jump right in and get their hands dirty.”  She smiles.

What are they looking for in a ROTE candidate?

Jesse helps conduct interviews into the program and she says they’re looking for students who would really benefit from the program: those who seem to have a genuine passion for education, especially if they’ve taken on leadership position in the past.  Flexibility, she says, is also important. “The point [of ROTE] is to see how a school works, all together.  How the teachers work collaboratively: not just working within their own grade level, but working cohesively with all grade levels as a faculty.”

As she moves into the graduate program, she hopes to stay at Smithland for practicum in 2014-15, but she knows she will be able to take what she learned there and apply it to any school setting.

“The leadership experience has been phenomenal.  It’s a TON of work.” She smiles again. “Time management is important.”

She would know:  Humphries is an honors student and is also involved in Kappa Delta Pi, Childhood Educators, TEACH Ambassadors, and she’s working on her senior thesis.

“I believe ROTE is going to change what type of teachers its members become, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Humphries(’15) is an Elementary Education Major, concentrating in Math/Science/ and Technology.  Her minor is Educational Media.

She created and maintains both the ROTE website: and the ROTE  Facebook page: